Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee (right) with his ally Ted Cruz
• UT-Sen: It's hard to lose a Republican primary for being too conservative, and freshman Sen. Mike Lee is probably favored for renomination. However, as Robert Gehrke of the Salt Lake Tribune explains, a major change in Utah's primary system could have real consequences for him in 2016.
Until now, Utah operated under a unique convention system. If a candidate received at least 60 percent of the delegates' support at the party state convention, he or she instantly won the nomination. If no one cleared this threshold, the top-two candidates with the most support competed in a primary. Lee himself benefited from this process in 2010, when he sought to unseat Sen. Bob Bennett. Conservative delegates unhappy with Bennett's occasional bipartisanship gave him a distant third at the convention, with Lee and Tim Bridgewater advancing to the primary instead. Lee prevailed in the end, and had no trouble winning the general in this dark red state.
Earlier this year, SB54 (also known as "Count My Vote") was signed into law and dramatically revamped the process. Candidates will now be allowed to gather enough signatures to head straight to the primary. This isn't great news for someone like Lee, who has spent his career exciting his base at the expense of everyone else. Under the old system all he needed were conservative delegates to renominate him, but now he'd need to appeal to more moderate voices, including unaffiliated voters who can participate in the primary.
The state Republican Party is suing to delay or even overturn SB54, and there's no guarantee that Lee will need to worry about it in 2016. Even if the law stays intact, Lee would still start out as the clear favorite for renomination. The primary electorate will still be quite conservative, and it would take a credible candidate to beat him. Former Gov. Mike Leavitt's name has been Great Mentioned, but Leavitt's allies say he's not interested, and it's not clear who else could step up. The new system may force Lee to change his strategy, but right now he still looks positioned to win.
• AR-Sen: The idea of outgoing Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe running for Senate against Republican incumbent John Boozman always seemed very unlikely, and on Sunday Beebe reiterated that he doesn't have any plans to seek office again. Beebe's not sure exactly what he'll be doing after he leaves office, and he's been considering teaching, serving on a few boards, and consulting (but not lobbying).
• LA-Gov: Next year's open seat race is still taking shape, and we have a new potential Republican candidate. Burl Cain, the warden of Louisiana State Penitentiary, better known as Angola, is openly considering jumping in. Interestingly, Cain seems very encouraged by an anonymous Facebook page urging him to run, and it's not clear if he had given the idea any serious thought before it sprang up.
Cain seems reluctant to leave the prison (which is not a sentence that gets written very often) but says he's thinking and praying on it. The warden has earned both his share of praise and criticism for his tenure at Angola. Many see him as someone who has restored dignity to prisoners, while others have accused him of violating the inmates' basic rights. A 2011 article at Mother Jones offers a fascinating profile of Cain and his personal style, and it's very worth reading.
• MT-Gov: Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock will be up for re-election in 2016, and he should expect a credible Republican challenger in this red state. However, we can already cross one potential name off the list. Last month, Troy Carter of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported that Attorney General Tim Fox has already filed to run for another term, which takes him out of the running. Wealthy businessman Greg Gianforte, who has been an influential player in state politics, may run for Team Red instead. Gianforte has so far been quiet about his intentions, but his name has been touted for a while and he's made no effort to deny his interest.
• MI-12: Democratic Rep. John Dingell is closing the book on his 59-year service in the House, the longest in U.S. History. Smart Politics gives us a list of every single House member Dingell ever served with, and there are a ton. The list includes names like John Hall, Jacob Gilbert, James Clyburn, and Jean Schmidt. However, I did check: There was never a Congress with John Jacob Dingell Clyburn Schmidt.
• OR Ballot: On Thursday supporters of Measure 92, which would have required the labeling of genetically modified foods, conceded defeat. This was the most expensive campaign in Oregon history, with opponents of the referendum outspending supporters $21 million to $8 million.
The race memorably saw an incredibly rare example of post-election get out the vote tactics. The Yes campaign contacted voters whose ballots were not recognized as valid but likely supported the measure, and urged them to correct the errors that were keeping their votes from being counted. It wasn't enough to win but it did help the Yes side make up ground and trigger a recount.
• Philadelphia Mayor: Former Councilman Frank Rizzo Jr., the 71-year-old son of one of Philadelphia's most famous/notorious mayors (Frank Rizzo Sr.), announced on Thursday that he won't run in the open race for mayor. Rizzo Jr. served four terms on the city council as a Republican (his dad served as mayor as a Dem, but became a Republican after he left office), starting in 1995 until losing a 2011 primary. Rizzo will run for the city council again, but this time as a Democrat. Rizzo had apparently been interested in running for mayor as a Democrat too, but former District Attorney Lynne Abraham's entry into the primary boxed Rizzo out of the law-and-order portion of the field.
• Demographics: The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating new interactive map looking county-by-county at the level of wage stagnation across the country. Nearly one-third of all counties, which hold 46 percent of the nation's population, have seen a decline in median income in the period from 2004 to 2013, when adjusting for inflation. There isn't a clear red/blue split between the counties that did or didn't decline, though; 280 of about 700 counties that voted for Barack Obama in 2012 saw declines (about 40 percent), while 800 of 2,400 counties that voted for Mitt Romney saw declines (about 33 percent).
As the WSJ points out, the biggest wage increases came in states most associated with the energy sector. This doesn't just include new sites of fracking like North Dakota and Wyoming, but also old-school oil patches like Texas and Louisiana. The states with the declines seem, in particular, to be manufacturing-centered (not just traditional smokestack-industry states like Michigan and Ohio, but also the Carolinas). States with either direct (California, Florida) or indirect (Oregon, via the timber industry's collapse following the collapse in housing construction) housing bubble problems also show up.
• WATN: When we last saw former Republican Rep. David McIntosh, he was trying to return to the House after a 12-year absence. McIntosh narrowly lost the 2012 open seat primary to Susan Brooks in IN-05, but he seems to have landed on his feet: He was just selected as the Club for Growth's new president. McIntosh will replace fellow ex-Indiana Rep. Chris Chocola as head of the well-funded anti-establishment group.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Taniel, and Dreaminonempty.